About three years ago I decided to make a homemade snowmaker similar to those that are used at the ski resorts in the North Carolina mountains.
My wife thought I was a nut, but she already knew I was a little off when it came to science and weather. Part of me did it because I love snow and skiing, the other part was because the science of snowmaking fascinated me.
It isn't just like taking your hose on a cold day and just spraying it into the air. That just makes ice. To make snow you need just the right combination of compressed air and water, which is where the science comes in.
When you compress a gas it warms. This happens in the atmosphere under high pressure aloft or downsloping winds. Another example is when you pump up tires on your car or bike. If you use a hand pump, feel the valve after a few pumps. It will be warm. Or on an air compressor it gets warms as it compresses the air.
Well the opposite happens when you decompress a gas like hair spray or compress air to clean your computer. Press the nozzle of a spray can for awhile and the can gets cold. Well if you compress air and water together, then decompress it, you get super cooled water vapor that will turn to snow under the right temperatures and dewpoint conditions. The best conditions are when temperatures are below 28 degrees and the dewpoint is in the teens. The colder and drier the easier it is to make snow, which is why the next few days will be awesome.
Okay building the tee-gun is pretty simple and cheap, but you need a good air compressor that is built for continuous running, which means it usually has oil in the motor to lubricate it. The rest of the parts are available at most hardware stores. I found great plans and information on snowmaking at www.snowguns.com. This site is awesome for amateur snowmakers.
Here's the parts list from www.snowguns.com
Here is how to assemble the gun
So if you have the time and effort to be the most popular dad in the neighborhood give it a try. It's fun and the kids will love it! One word of warning, once you start you'll get a addicted to trying to make more and more snow. Just check out the forums under the www.snowguns.com web site. You'll see how people take snowmaking in the backyard to a whole new levels! Have fun!